Expressions of pain by individuals with chronic pain may encourage solicitous and distracting responses from some partners and punishing responses from others. Partners’ responses can impact the well-being of individuals with chronic pain. Yet information about factors that can explain the link between expression of pain behaviors and different partners’ responses is scarce. The objective of this study was to investigate the role of perceived partner burden and relationship quality in the link between expressions of pain behaviors and perceived partner responses (ie, solicitous, distracting, and punishing responses).
Materials and Methods:
Participants were 158 individuals with chronic pain (ie, experiencing pain on most days for at least 6 months before participating in the study) who completed questionnaires about pain behaviors, as well as perceptions of partner burden, relationship quality, and partners’ solicitous, distracting, and punishing responses. The link between expressing pain and each type of partner response was investigated by serial mediation analysis. Partner burden and relationship quality were entered into all analyses as the first and the second mediator, respectively.
Expressing more pain was related to higher levels of perceived partner burden, which in turn, was associated with poorer relationship quality. Poorer relationship quality was associated with reporting fewer solicitous and distracting partner responses and more punishing responses.
Enhanced partner burden and reduced relationship quality may be one pathway through which pain behaviors relate to partner responses.